We asked our residents and colleagues what Black History Month meant to them. Read on to learn more about the personal importance of this incredible month of reflection.
Words by Evolve resident Akua
For me, Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect on history and appreciate Black culture.
There are so many learnings to take from the various cultures that contribute to the richness of Black history. From the strength of Caribbean men and women who came to the UK on the Empire Windrush, to the strength of Diane Abbot, the first Black female MP in the UK, and popular recording artists like Stormzy and Michael Dapaah who have grown up in tough inner city environments from humble beginnings as the children of immigrants.
I take great courage in knowing that there are people who look like me that have successful careers, who are being true to themselves, breaking glass ceilings and are being celebrated for their influence, talents and who they are. The representation of Black people in the media who are free to be themselves is also refreshing and encouraging for me.
The recent resurgence of the natural hair movement has seen more Black people wearing their natural hair in its natural state, opting to wear styles that celebrate the uniqueness of Black hair in its many textures. Documentaries like Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair’, and the natural hair community on Youtube have also had a positive impact on my own image as a Black person.
The sense of community and safe space to share knowledge on Black culture has been a great confidence builder for me. It is affirming to know that there are people who understand the complexities and nuances behind Black history and culture, the visibility that social media has given Black people who may not be famous has helped me to accept that being Black is beautiful and is something to be celebrated. I am deserving of love, joy, respect and deserve to be heard; the great advantage of living in a multicultural society is the ability to live and learn together. This has been evidenced in recent times with people of all backgrounds coming together to fight against oppression and inequality.
It is vitally important Black voices like my own are given more platforms like this. We need greater defined spaces that amplify Black voices in every organisation, work space and charity. It is essential in the fight for equality to empower others to be heard. Being able to write this piece proves we’re heading in the right direction. Although there is still a long way to go.
Black History Month is a time to make a concerted effort to discuss Black history, culture and reflect on how to develop my confidence in my Blackness and as an individual, realising that despite any challenges we may face, there is a strength that resides in us all.
I also recognise that Black History Month can be triggering and do advocate for the creation of safe spaces to discuss trauma and encourage more Black people to engage in therapy. I believe the stigma on mental illness is reducing within the Black community, with initiatives on Instagram such as PsyCool, Black Minds Matter UK and Celutions, creating awareness and providing safe spaces for Black people to discuss mental health.
I am hopeful that things are getting better, and as Russell Ledet once said, “We are our ancestor’s wildest dreams”.
Words by Evolve resident Akua